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Four weeks after police shot and fatally wounded him in the Sandia foothills, a casket carrying James Boyd’s body was rolled into the parking lot of a homeless shelter he used to visit.
About 70 people attended Boyd’s funeral Sunday at St. Martin’s Hospitality Center. Boyd’s mother, Barbara Jones, and his brother, Andrew Jones, sat in the front row.
Many people at the funeral said they hope Boyd’s death will highlight the importance of resources for the homeless and the mentally ill in Albuquerque. Boyd was believed to have suffered from schizophrenia, said Shannon Kennedy, one of the attorneys representing Boyd’s family.
“We can no longer walk by people with mental illness and pretend we don’t see their faces,” the Rev. Rusty Smith, the executive director of St. Martin’s, said during the funeral. “James is the face.”
Albuquerque Police Department officers shot Boyd, 38, after an hourslong standoff in the Sandia foothills not far from the Copper trailhead on March 16. Boyd appeared ready to surrender when he was shot. He died the next day.
Police video of the shooting sparked outcry. Demonstrators held candle-light vigils and protests in reaction to Boyd’s death.
Boyd had held knives and threatened officers during the standoff. He also had a history of arrests for batteries against police and other law enforcement.
The shooting was referred to in a Department of Justice report issued last week about APD’s use of excessive and deadly force. The Boyd shooting wasn’t part of the 16-month DOJ investigation that led to its findings, but federal agencies are doing a separate probe into it to determine if the officers involved committed any crimes, Kennedy said.
A team of attorneys is representing Boyd’s family in a civil case. Kennedy said they have filed requests for additional police footage and reports from the shooting and will examine those before deciding how to proceed.
Andrew Jones spoke briefly at the funeral service. He said his brother cared about other people.
“He was never forgotten,” Andrew Jones said. “He was always loved.”
Kennedy said Boyd’s brother and mother, who lives in Oregon, were grieving Sunday after a trip on Saturday to the place where Boyd was fatally wounded. Andrew and Barbara Jones declined interviews.
To those who knew him, Boyd was difficult to connect with, some of the mourners said. But when he would speak with people, he was often friendly and talked about nature.
“He was kind of like all of us. He had his own way of doing things,” said George Williams, who also visits St. Martin’s and knew Boyd there. “The way he got killed. I don’t like it.”
After the service, Boyd’s body was taken to Sandia Memory Gardens. A few people shared stories and said goodbye as he was lowered into the ground.
Karen Cathey, of Albuquerque, said last month she took her grandson to the Sandia foothills trails at night to gaze at stars. She was approached by a scruffy man who was pleasant and asked her for the time. She later realized she had met Boyd there.
“He was a good soul,” she said. “I had no fear when he approached me in the dark.”